Feb. 23 (UPI) — President Joe Biden will hold the first bilateral meeting of his administration on Tuesday with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, talks that are expected to thaw what’s turned into a frosty relationship between the two nations over the past four years.
Biden and Trudeau will begin the virtual meeting at about 4 p.m. on Tuesday, speaking to each other via video conference due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The pair are expected to address shared goals in dealing with the health crisis, as well as other key matters that include climate change, racial and social discrimination and other issues typical for a president’s introductory conference.
Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan will also meet remotely with their Canadian counterparts.
“As friends, neighbors, NATO Allies and partners, [our] relationship is deeply rooted in our shared values, our shared history and our shared vision for the future,” the White House said in a statement Tuesday.
“From national security to global affairs to environmental protection to free trade, our two countries work closely together.”
The White House said Biden and Trudeau plan to unveil a U.S.-Canada “Partnership Roadmap,” described as a “blueprint for our whole-of-government relationship” based on shared values and priorities areas of mutual concern.
The initiative involves six provisions — fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, economic recovery, taking measurable action on climate change, promoting diversity and inclusion, strengthening national security and defense and building global alliances.
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“The president and the prime minister’s top priority is to end the COVID-19 pandemic,” the White House added. “The Roadmap will highlight our nations’ support for the multilateral institutions that are on the front lines of COVID-19 response.”
Under the economic provision, the two leaders will work to develop strategies to create jobs, “supply chain resilience” and other economic growth on both sides of the border.
On climate change, Biden and Trudeau will launch a high level climate ministerial the White House says will align policy and goals in view of the United States’ return to the Paris Climate Agreement under Biden.
“They will commit to strengthened implementation of the Paris Agreement by working jointly and with others to increase the scale and speed of action toward the goal of net-zero emissions by 2050,” the White House said.
Other items on the agenda include modernizing North American Aerospace Defense Command, re-establishing the Cross-Border Crime Forum, reviving the North American Leaders’ Summit with Mexico and addressing systemic racism, gender-based discrimination and barriers for the disabled.
Other talking points at Tuesday’s conference might be Biden’s recent move to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline and Canada’s difficulty in obtaining coronavirus vaccines from plants near the U.S.-Canada border.
Trudeau could also push Biden for support in securing the release of two Canadians who are being held in China on espionage charges. They have been there since 2018, when Canada detained Huawei Technologies’ chief financial officer for the United States on charges that she violated sanctions related to Iran.
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